Three things we learned on Day 18

August, 12, 2012
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Observations from Sunday at training camp:

1. Quarterbacks use the binky in Cincy. The "binky," according to coordinator Tony Sparano, is the play-sheet wristband. He doesn't want his QBs to get attached to the binky, so they went the first two weeks in camp without it. That way, Sparano figured, it would force them to learn the verbiage of his system. For the preseason opener, the QBs went to the binky for in-game reference. Sparano said they haven't decided yet if Mark Sanchez will use it in the regular season. He said he'd leave it up to Sanchez.

2. They will stand pat at safety. The Jets are listing Eric Smith as day-to-day with a sprained MCL, but he's still likely to miss the rest of the preseason. Even so, they're not planning to add a veteran safety, according to Rex Ryan. In a weird way, Smith's injury might not be such a bad thing for the secondary. You might say he's the "binky" for the rest of the safeties -- the only one who knows Ryan's system. Without him, it'll force the other safeties to learn it quickly. Yeremiah Bell made the secondary calls in the opener and, from all indications, he didn't blow any calls.

3. The power of Austin -- yeah, baby. Ryan is known for gushing about players, so you have to take everything with a grain of salt, but he sure delivered a compelling evaluation of RT Austin Howard. Part of that could've been to send a message to incumbent Wayne Hunter, who, miraculously, returned to practice after missing a few days with a lower-back injury. But I still say Hunter is the opening-day starter. Howard shows potential, especially as a run blocker in Sparano's system, but he's inexperienced (four NFL games, one start) and still prone to mental errors.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter



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